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How #Volunteering Can Help You Stand Out from the Crowd

1 Jul
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
~ Booker T. Washington
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This is a contribution by How2Become

When you’re desperately looking for that next job, working for free may not seem like the next best thing at all. But, volunteering can seriously help you to stand out from other applicants and can help you to get that next interview.

Show that you are a proactive person

Volunteering for three months looks a lot better on a resume than a long gap between jobs. It shows that you have kept your brain active, that you have been determined to improve the lives of others and that you were not content to sit at home and order a pizza.

It’s not all about money

It shows a great level of dedication and loyalty to stick at a volunteering post for a few months without being paid. Volunteering demonstrates that there is more to your motivation than just money. Employers will like this as they will see you as a person who wants to do their job well for the sake of fulfilling your own personal goals rather than it being all about the money. Somebody who really wants a job for reasons other than financial ones will be much more appealing to employers.

Learn key skills

Many volunteering posts require many of the same skills as a paid professional job. For example, fundraising for a charity requires good sales and negotiation skills in order to get people to donate. Similarly, working with children with learning difficulties or teaching English as a foreign language require excellent communication skills.

Network with influential people

Many larger charities have paid jobs higher up. Whilst volunteering you may get to meet people who have the power to hire and fire employees in these positions. After a few months of volunteering for a larger charitable organisation you may even be offered a permanent paid position. You will be amazed at the variety of different people who volunteer. Even if they themselves are between jobs or out of work, they may have friends and relatives in the industries in which you wish to apply for jobs. It never hurts to get talking to people with contacts.

Gain Work Experience

There are a huge number of volunteering opportunities out there. You are bound to find something relevant to the career you want to pursue. If you want to go into marketing then why not help a charity to design posters for free? If you’re looking at events management then ask if you can help to organise a charity dinner or a fundraising event. You can tailor the type of volunteering you do to perfectly demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to enter your desired field. These kinds of opportunities would not be given to you in a paid job until you climbed quite high up the ladder in a larger corporation, so volunteering can give the perfect platform to prove you have what it takes.

Get further, faster

Since volunteers don’t get paid, there are few people who can afford to stick at it for a considerable length of time. If you manage to stay for a few months, you may see yourself become one of the more senior and experienced volunteers. You may even get your own team to lead; an opportunity which you wouldn’t be given for years in the corporate world. Relish the opportunities and make the most of them. Managerial experience will look amazing on your resume and will show that other people have had faith in you to perform to a very high standard in the past.

Richard McMunn is a writer for  How2Become, a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centres in order to secure their dream job. 

Tech for Good: Online and Mobile Safety, Privacy, and Security

1 Feb

January 28 was Data Privacy Day, an internationally-recognized day all about creating awareness and action around something we might all benefit from knowing more about:  staying safe online.

Coffee Shop

These days we are often connected anytime, anyplace, on a mobile device (or two, or three.)   It’s become second-nature to jump onto Wi-Fi for a few minutes on a laptop or tablet.  We hardly think anymore about how we’re doing what we’re doing while we’re doing it…  Who might be watching, or what they might be seeing.  We’re accustomed to granting access for this and that, barely giving privacy a thought.

A recent article in ReadWrite.com by Adam Popescu titled Data Privacy Day: Painful Growing Pains, highlights some important areas where tech can do a lot of good toward keeping things safe, secure, and private.  Whether we’re emailing, shopping, looking for information, banking, updating our social networks, or anything else, safety is a concern.  Specifically, there are some things you can do to increase your safety and security.

A few standout points:

  • Read privacy policies, and learn more about them through places like PrivacyCamp and its #PrivChat privacy chat on Twitter 

  • Prevent unwanted tracking with services like FixTracking.com

  • Stay protected and anonymous on public Wi-Fi with VPN encryption services like AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield

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Image from ReadWrite.com

Simple things like being aware of security and privacy issues and taking quick, easy steps to prevent trouble can make a big difference in keeping things safe, secure, and private online.

You can read Adam’s article in its entirety HERE.

The Buy-One-Give-One Business Model: Does it Work?

9 Jan

This is a guest post by Edgar Frohme.

The term BOGO once referred to consumers getting an item for free after they made a similar purchase. This drove customers to stores and websites because it made them feel like they were getting a great deal. However, a new form of BOGO has developed in which consumers themselves aren’t receiving the benefit from the purchase, rather, it’s donated. Now BOGO commonly refers to buy-one-give-one and rewards consumers by donating a good to those in need. While this seems like a better, altruistic alternative to traditional BOGO, does it work? The answer depends upon whom you ask.

Is BOGO Feasible?

As any good businessperson would want to know, how do BOGO programs affect revenue? By initiating a BOGO program, business owners are essentially obliging themselves to a future debt when a good is purchased. Before any BOGO program is started, it’s advised to investigate how this will affect the company’s cash flow. This may be easier for some than others.

hand holding the heart. charity

Using services such as American Express cash flow, which allows business owners more flexibility on when and how money is spent and paid back, make BOGO simpler to implement. Cash-flow services provide business owners with the opportunity to use BOGO programs without worrying about the financial commitment they’re making to customers and those receiving charitable gifts.

The most widely recognized success story with BOGO is that of Tom’s Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes bought. More than 2 million shoes have been given across the world, and Tom’s Shoes has become a chic choice for those wanting to help others. However, this business model has come under fire recently when it was learned that, while this program is profitable for Tom’s and well meaning, it might have negative effects. Charitable gifts abroad can have a distorting effect on developing markets by undermining local business and creating an unsustainable aid-based economy.

3 Questions to Consider When Developing a BOGO Program.

What’s the Local Market? – If the GO of BOGO improperly skews the market for a good, it may do harm. Undercutting local manufacturers and retailers who earn a living from those products has a net negative effect on the local community.

What’s the Production Chain of the BOGO Company? – Many times, a more-positive effect can come when the supply chain comes to the community. Sourcing materials and manufacturing not only puts money in the pockets of the local community but also provide much-needed skills.

Does the Product Solve a Root Cause of the Problem? – Temporary relief is appreciated and valuable but does not address the overarching problems present in a community. Charitable gifts should be centered on a sustainable, long-lasting way to support an impoverished part of the world.

BOGO programs are a net benefit for business, consumers and those they help only with proper forethought. By investigating what possible effects a BOGO program will have on recipients, business owners can confidently use these programs to create a win-win-win situation.

New: Google’s Global Impact Awards, $23 Million for Nonprofit Innovation!

5 Dec

This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Good, PR and Marketing Consultant

Global Impact Awards Give $23 Million to Charities to Spur Innovation, Help Girls and Minority Students

Posted: 12/04/2012 9:00 am
Nonprofits have longed for years to have access to the best technology. Often, even the best of ideas have challenges when technology is involved, whether it’s a technical or a funding issue. That’s where the newly-announced Google Global Impact Awards come in.

When you think of advancements in technology, engineering and creativity, you probably think Google. But the tech powerhouse also has a generous philanthropic side. Its new Global Impact Awards program has a mission for funding innovation that solves critical issues.

Supporting tech-driven philanthropy, Google’s Impact Awards focus on creating large, paradigm-shifting changes in social good.

Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Charitable Giving and Advocacy at Google, shared some insight on why this was an important mission for Google to tackle.

“Google looks for opportunities with explosive, innovative impact. The organizations here have an entrepreneurial spirit, embrace technology, and are in the sweet spot between technology and impact that can create massive, positive change.”

Fuller also notes that like Google, these nonprofits aren’t afraid to take informed risks, or “fail forward fast” and learn quickly from mistakes through metrics and measuring results. Following the Google model of “launch and iterate,” they will be on a constant learning and recalibrating adventure, making rapid technological strides.

The first round of $23 million in Global Impact Awards funding goes to seven nonprofits:

* charity: water
* DonorsChoose.org
* Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
* World Wildlife Fund
* Consortium for the Barcode of Life
* GiveDirectly
* Equal Opportunity Schools

GoogleImpactVideo

Learn more about Google’s Global Impact Awards and this year’s grantees by clicking above to go to the Google Impact Awards video. Graphic courtesy of Google for Nonprofits

Each organization is already doing outstanding work, and these awards for specific, new technology will help advance that work.

The clean-water nonprofit charity: water will leverage their $5 million Global Impact Award grant to pilot the installation of real-time water monitoring technologies at 4,000 water points across Africa by 2015. The impact of being able to monitor and measure water well performance on this scale will provide invaluable data not only to charity:water, but also to help other NGO’s and governments with their own well projects. This rapid learning and cataloging of information will allow new advances in building, operating, and maintaining more working wells.
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More than 800 million people globally do not have access to clean drinking water. However, charity:water is working to change that. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org

Scott Harrison, CEO of charity: water, explains it this way:

“We have embraced technology at charity:water since we started, with things like GPS units on every well so people can see their money in action on Google Maps. This project takes that transparency to another level. Now people can also see how much water the well they donated to is pumping, how many children, men and women in a community are now able to have clean drinking water. Information we learn from this data can be acted on to proactively create better training, maintenance, and building plans. And when people ‘check back in’ years later, they can see how their well is doing.”

DonorsChoose.org will use their $5 million Global Impact Award grant to provide public schools across the U.S. with materials to create ~500 new Advanced Placement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses, partnering with College Board. In the U.S., girls and minority students are less likely to study math and science in college or pursue related careers than their counterparts. More exposure to these programs at public high schools that commit to AP STEM enrollments reflecting their school’s overall diversity can lead to more growth in this area.


World Wildlife Fund
‘s $5 million Global Impact Award grant will be used to help detect and deter poaching in Asia and Africa. The illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth $7-10 billion annually, is emptying our forests, landscapes and oceans. This grant will help implement specialized sensors and wildlife tagging technology, and ranger patrolling guided by analytical software to help nature’s front line curb this poaching.

At the forefront of promoting gender equality in children’s media and entertainment, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will use its $1.2 million Award to support the development of automated technology that analyzes female portrayals in children’s media.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) will use their $3 million Global Impact Awards grant to create and begin implementing ‘DNA barcoding’ as a cost-effective, rapid, standardized, and actionable tool for protecting the world’s most endangered wildlife. More than 35,000 of the world’s 1.8 million named species are considered to be in danger of extinction, and of these, 2,000 are protected from illegal international trade by the strictest trade regulations under a UN treaty. CBOL will build a public library of DNA barcodes that law enforcement officials can use to identify confiscated material.

With their $2.4 million Global Impact Award grant, GiveDirectly will scale up its model of direct mobile technology cash transfer to Kenyan families living in extreme poverty, and expand operations to a second country. Despite assumptions, cash transfers are a proven approach to lifting people out of poverty, with substantial positive impacts including business profits, farm profits, investment and savings, adult work hours, children’s school enrollment, children’s health, and infant birth weight. GiveDirectly’s mission is to make direct giving available to donors everywhere, and in doing so to set a new benchmark for the nonprofit sector.

Equal Opportunity Schools will use their $1.8 million Global Impact Award grant to identify 6,000 high-performing yet under-represented students in 60 high schools and move them into advanced high school classes. Every year over 600,000 low-income students in the U.S. miss out on the opportunity to be placed in advanced classes that could provide the training they need to succeed at college. EOS results show that AP pass rates increase or stay the same in more diverse classrooms. Students will be selected using data that demonstrates potential to succeed and readiness for greater challenges.

As these projects progress, nonprofits and social good fans will have an opportunity to learn from the processes the six grantees are going through in their innovative journeys.

You can learn more about the Google Global Impact Awards here. If you are part of a nonprofit, there are also many resources available through Google for Nonprofits.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas. Amy is also Director of Public Relations for POGCO, the People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative – Ohio, a grassroots organization focused on sustainability, regulatory, safety, and property rights issues in the oil and gas industry.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

14 Quotes to Inspire You

7 Oct

This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

by 

Writer, Speaker; Social Good, PR and Marketing Consultant

Posted: 10/05/2012 5:00 pm

Inspiration can come from many places. Often, it’s something simple that catches your eye and your curiosity, sparking new thinking or a flash of insight. Quotes have long been a source of inspiration for this reason. The right quote can leave one feeling uplifted, or create an “Ah ha!” moment of compassion, happiness, and awareness.

Here are 14 inspiring quotes to give a quick, positive boost to your day!

2012-10-05-InspirationTree.jpgSomething bright at just the right moment can create a beautiful perspective. Photo courtesy of Amy Neumann

William James
1  of  15
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~ William James

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter@CharityIdeas.

For more by Amy Neumann, click here.

For more GPS Guides, click here.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Social Media All-Stars Unite to Create “The Social Cookbook” to Benefit @InvisiblePeople.tv

19 Sep

Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Liz Strauss and a Dozen Other Web Celebs Donate Recipes for Cookbook App to Help the Homeless

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

InvisiblePeople.tv has teamed up with BakeSpace.com and some of the most visible people in social media to create “The Social Cookbook” – a first-of-its-kind app-based fundraising cookbook to raise funds to fight homelessness.

Get the Social Cookbook App!

Created with BakeSpace’s Cookbook Café digital publishing platform, “The Social Cookbook” is available for download on the iPad via the free Cookbook Café app, as well as online as a web-based e-book. It includes personal recipes from 19 highly respected social media influencers – from Chris Brogan and Liz Strauss to Brian Solis and Beth Kanter.

Watch: How InvisiblePeople.tv, the organization helping homelessness via social media, has teamed with BakeSpace.com to create the first crowd-sourced cookbook from social media

The cookbook costs $2.99 to download, and all proceeds (after Apple’s App Store fee) go to support InvisiblePeople.tv and its efforts to fight homelessness using the power of social media. The organization is a nationally-recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2008 by Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal on Twitter). Its mission is to empower the homeless to tell their stories, build community and connect with support services by helping them get online and have a voice.

To build “The Social Cookbook,” a list of all-star social media influencers contributed their favorite personal recipes including:

  • David Armano’s “Popo Mikey’s Famous Stuffing & Mom’s Turkey Gravy” (@armano)
  • Chris Brogan’s “Poor Man’s Shepherd’s Pie” (@chrisbrogan)
  • C.C. Chapman’s “Soggy Saturday Wings” (@cc_chapman)
  • Claire Diaz-Ortiz’s “Sugar Cookies” (@Claire)
  • Sarah Evans’ “Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes with Bananas” (@PRsarahevans)
  • Jason Falls’ “Potato and Egg Salad” (@jasonfalls)
  • Sean Gardner’s “Lasagna” (@2morrowknight)
  • Beth Kanter’s “Kachumber Salad” (@kanter)
  • Jason Keath’s “Dirty Greek Eggs” (@jasonkeath)
  • Shira Lazar’s “Shira’s Social Sangria” (@shiralazar)
  • Stefanie Michaels’ “Eggs ala Salsa” (@adventuregirl)
  • Amy Neumann’s “Simple Homemade Pickles” (@CharityIdeas)
  • Amber Naslund’s “Chicken Tortilla Soup” (@ambercadabra)
  • Lee Odden’s “Philly Cheese Steak Rolls” (@leeodden)
  • Jeff Pulver’s “Jeff Pulver’s Jackson Hole Shakshuka” (@jeffpulver)
  • Peter Shankman’s “Mom’s Calming Noodles and Cheese” (@petershankman)
  • Mari Smith’s “Mom’s Scottish Shortbread” (@marismith)
  • Brian Solis’ “Tortilla Espanola” (@briansolis)
  • Liz Strauss’ “Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich” (@lizstrauss)

“I love that this cookbook brings together some of the most visible people in social media to help some of the least visible people in our society,” said InvisiblePeople.tv Founder Mark Horvath. “I’m grateful to everyone who helped create ‘The Social Cookbook,’ as well as everyone who downloads it to help fight homelessness.”

To preview excerpts from the cookbook and learn more, visit http://bit.ly/thesocialcookbook.

“Fundraising cookbooks have been around for a long time, so our goal for Cookbook Café was to update the publishing process and make it easier, more efficient and more rewarding,” said BakeSpace.com Founder Babette Pepaj. “We wanted to come up with a technology that democratizes cookbook publishing and helps nonprofits like InvisiblePeople sweeten their fundraising efforts.”

Learn more about our homeless friends, aka “Invisible People,” Mark Horvath and InvisiblePeople.tv are helping us see using social media to spread their stories.

Cookbook Café enables anyone (individuals, groups, brands, etc.) to publish a cookbook as both a web-based e-book and an iPad app quickly, easily and at no cost.

Once a cookbook is published, the author can give it away for free or sell it to the world for profit or fundraising. Cookbooks are sold online and on the iPad via Cookbook Café’s community-driven marketplace, which makes it easy for shoppers to discover even the most niche cookbooks. “The Social Cookbook” is the first cookbook published using Cookbook Café’s new groups feature, which enables groups of any size to crowdsource recipes and work together to build a cookbook.

Earlier this year, Cookbook Café was recognized by the Webby Awards and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) in the best social app and use of new technology categories. The do-it-yourself publishing platform includes: 1) The free Cookbook Café iPad app with cookbook storefront and reader, 2) A web-based version of the storefront and reader accessible via any web browser, and 3) A web-based book builder that automatically publishes each cookbook as both an iPad app and web-based e-book. More information about Cookbook Café is available at http://CookbookCafe.com. To make an original cookbook, visit BakeSpace.com/cookbooks – it’s free!

About InvsiblePeople.tv

InvisiblePeople.tv is a grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2008 by Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal on Twitter) to fight poverty and homelessness using the power of online social media. The organization launched its sister site – WeAreVisible.com – in September 2010 as a resource to educate homeless people, help them get online and connect with support services. After building a successful career in television syndication, Mark found himself homeless in 1995 following a battle with addiction. He worked hard to clean up his act, and was living comfortably by 2007 with a three-bedroom house and a 780 credit score. But then the recession hit. After several layoffs and a foreclosure, he was once again facing homelessness. That’s when Mark launched InvisiblePeople.tv with just $45 and a budding interest in social media. More information is available at http://InvisiblePeople.tv and http://WeAreVisible.com.

About Cookbook Cafe and BakeSpace.com

Launched in 2006 as the Web’s first food social network, BakeSpace.com has been described by USA Today as “the closest thing to a Facebook-like food site.” It has earned numerous Webby Award honors including back-to-back nominations for “Best Social Network.” The company’s ‘Cookbook Café’ publishing platform is the first DIY digital publishing tool that enables anyone to create, market and sell a cookbook as both a native iPad app and a web-based eBook. BakeSpace also produces the TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference, which is held in cities across North America. More information is available at http://BakeSpaceMedia.com.

#SocialGood Stars: @PlantAFish Founder Fabien Cousteau (@FCousteau) on Helping Our Oceans

17 Sep

This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Good, PR and Marketing Consultant

Social Good Stars: Plant a Fish Founder Fabien Cousteau on Helping Our Oceans

Posted: 09/02/2012 9:08 am

This is the twelfth installment of the Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world. You can read the eleventh interview with Global Impact CEO Scott Jackson here.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
– Jacques Yves Cousteau

Fabien Cousteau was born with a passion for the ocean. His grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, was a prolific ocean documentarian and explorer (134 documentaries, 70 books), and an inquisitive conservationist who helped invent the aqualung, allowing modern SCUBA diving. Fabien spent many years on board the Calypso and Alycone with Jacques and his family, developing a love for the ocean, filming it, and helping its creatures. His father Jean-Michel and sister Celine are also avid explorers, and the three of them completed a three-year multi-hour series for PBS called Ocean Adventures in 2006. Fabien uses his environmental economics degree from Boston University to bring insight into striking balance between regional and global environmental issues and the realities of market economies. In 2010 he founded the nonprofit Plant A Fish to empower and educate local communities by replanting aquatic plants and animals.

Between traveling between France and New York City, Fabien spends a great deal of time on the oceans filming. He also speaks around the world about the Ocean and its ecosystems, and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Gayle King, and NBC’s Today Show. He is involved with the boards of SeaKeepers Society, Water Innovation Alliance, Millennium Project, and many others, and has spoken recently at TEDx and the 2012 UN Rio Earth Summit.

Here are some of his thoughts on saving the world, one fish at a time.

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Plant A Fish (PAF) is an active, hands-on outdoor education and restoration experience developed by Fabien Cousteau, third-generation ocean explorer, documentary filmmaker and environmental ambassador. Photo courtesy of PlantAFish.org

You’ve said, “The oceans are the circulatory system of life on this planet. Quite literally saving the oceans protects ourselves.” Can you expand on that?

Oceans make up 71% of the earth’s surface and 97.5% of all the water on earth. And around 70% of all food contains ingredients from the oceans, even down to the grain grown using fish meal that may be fed to animals, or the kelp in ice cream. Someone skiing on a mountain 1000 miles inland is skiing on snow from water in the oceans. It’s critical to protect this ecosystem since it impacts all facets of life.

Once you start to learn more about the ocean and all its incredible life forms, it’s nearly impossible to turn your back. That’s why Plant a Fish came about – to educate, empower, and help restore these amazing creatures and ecosystems in a hands-on, fun way.

Telling stories visually, through documentaries and photos, is a hallmark of yours. Why do you think that’s so impactful?

Although it would be ideal for everyone to be able to experience the wonder of the ocean scuba diving or on a scientific submarine, since that’s not practical, being a storyteller for the oceans is the next best thing. I started film making when I was 8 and love it. Visual elements are at the core of telling compelling stories, and telling stories is a great way to inspire people and evoke emotions.

This is useful for any organization, visual storytelling. And although the attention span increases with the quality, any tool is a great tool when used properly – even a casual video shot from a smartphone can capture the essence of an event in a way that shares it more fully with the audience. And photos can capture the beauty and emotions of particular moments so they’re recreated for others, and create a desire to help or learn more.

What are some ways individuals can help the ocean?

Of course we offer many programs, and ideas to start an effort in your area, at Plant a Fish. Another great resource is your local aquarium. They will have access to conservation groups, events, and activities you can join to get more personally involved. There are hands-on actitives like beach cleanups and local restoration projects that are an opportunity to have fun and learn as well as protect and restore.

Just as important are simple, day-to-day things, a different way of seeing. Stay curious. Respect nature. Get guidance when doing new activities outdoors. Look but don’t touch. Explore, learn, and share what you discover.

And things like recycling are invaluable, but often come a bit late in the process. Instead, think: Refuse to use, reduce, reuse, then recycle. Conservation and protection are far more helpful to the environment that fixing things after they’re broken.

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Fabien Cousteau was inspired to protect the oceans growing up on the decks of his famous Grandfather Jacques Cousteau’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone. Photo courtesy of FabienCousteau.org

You can learn more about how to get involved with the oceans at Plant a Fish, on Facebook, and @PlantAFish on Twitter.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Crisis Management: How To Handle a Crisis Using Social Media (5 Steps)

23 Aug

This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Good Consultant

5 Steps for Crisis Management Using Social Media

Posted: 08/20/2012 1:03 pm

Today, good news — or bad news — breaks in real time. And anything can go viral in short order. This is great for cute babies laughing in videos, or heart-warming tales of good deeds. It’s not great, however, for the unexpected, semi-inevitable crisis that any organization can face suddenly. Luckily, nothing in the social media world is too much different than in the “real world.” Quotes emphasizing that, like it or not, they are virtually the same now — online and offline worlds.

So how can one be prepared?

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” — John F. Kennedy

Thinking about and detailing a crisis management plan in advance is of course ideal; getting at least prepared with the basics is a necessity. One critical component of planning on a small or large scale is social media strategy. A 2012 Gartner study reports, “75% of organizations with BCM [Business Continuity Programs] will have public social media services in their crisis communications strategies by 2015.” And why is that?

It’s because the fastest way to spread any message now is via social media.


Outlined below are five steps organizations can take to help successfully navigate and manage a crisis smoothly, using social media.

Although these steps do have a definitive chronological order, the diagram [below] includes a star pattern across the five areas, indicating that as things progress, new information and feedback emerges. And positive progress is made, the steps become more fluid.

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Awareness

Social media is most beneficial to everyone when it is conversational and engaging. Part of that is being aware of the conversations happening. Although some people are hesitant to “get involved with social media,” the fact is, every public and private organization is already involved with social media.

Think of social media like this: If you walk into the center of a crowded room, and then cover your ears with your hands, people don’t stop talking; you only stop hearing what they’re already saying.

How do you stay aware? By monitoring the outside social media world. Keeping tabs on the major platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube and blog comments keeps companies informed. This can be as simple as setting up free Google alerts. Or, there are numerous platforms available to make listening (and interacting) simple, even with large teams. A few currently popular choices would include Hootsuite, CoTweet , Sprout Social, Argyle, Radian6, Sysomos, and Vitrue. Some of the more sophisticated tools even track Sentiment, meaning whether mentions are positive or negative overall… which can be a good heads-up that somethings amiss if sentiment suddenly turns more negative.

With any of these, including Google alerts, here are a few key things to track:

• Organization name
• CEO and other high-profile people
• Marquee products or services by name
• Social media accounts (if not tracking with social media tools)
• Your blog name
• Your events
• Competitors

Listening

“There is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” — The Matrix

Awareness is important, but what next? Unless one side is listening while the other is talking, there’s no conversation happening.

Where there isn’t conversation, there’s everything else: opinion, gossip, hearsay, irritation, confusion, assumption. None of these are ideal for organizations that pride themselves on trust, credibility, honesty and two-way communication.

So what does “listening” mean? It means noticing, and responding, to comments and social media mentions. It also means not deleting negative comments (unless extremely profane, abusive, racist or otherwise severely questionable), as that is equivalent to hanging up on someone who calls customer service. That almost always backfires and makes the person not only more angry, but also more prone to escalate their negative comments. At that point, when feeling “dismissed,” people are more likely to mention their annoyance to their social media networks, which can rapidly become viral, in a bad way. And most of the time, exactly like in the “real world” (vs. online), a few things become important.

These are things your customers want during a crisis:

• Feeling like I’m heard.
• Feeling like my opinion matters.
• Feeling like someone hears me and will do something.

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Hmmm… Is there trouble brewing? Photo by Amy Neumann

Transparency

Updates should be as real-time as possible. Don’t admit fault if it’s not determined, but at the same time, acknowledge the hardship that the confusion or changing circumstances warrant. And when it’s clear the fault lies within, acknowledge it, thank people for their feedback, and say how and why it won’t happen again. People want the real story, and appreciate it — even more than “perfection.”

Transparency shows in statements like these:

• We are aware of the issue, live updates are here: (site URL)
• Here’s what we’re doing to solve it
• Here’s how we’ll prevent it in the future
• Thank you for your patience and feedback

Feedback

This step is important, and not too far from listening. But in addition to hearing what people are saying, it’s critical to let them know they’re being heard. Providing feedback can be as simple as “Thank you for your feedback, more details are available at ___,” or for more complex matters, provide and email address they can send messages to for deeper interaction. Then, of course, follow up. At the feedback stage, it’s all about helping customers/constituents feel “in the loop,” like they are being heard, because someone is responding.

Feedback to the broader audience as a whole is also vital. Some ways to do this are through updates on websites and blogs, YouTube videos from executives or others within the company providing updates (normal quality is fine — it’s about the message, not the medium), Facebook updates, Tweets, LinkedIn status updates from executives, and posts on Google Plus.

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Now we’re getting somewhere… Photo by Amy Neumann

Resolution

Any crisis should at some point, hopefully quickly, come to a resolution. If the steps above have been happening ongoing, when there is resolution, it will be quick and easy to update those affected, using social media. The messaging at this point should thank people for their feedback and patience, outlining what the solution was, apologizing as needed, and reassuring customers that this has been a learning lesson and steps are in place to avoid a similar situation in the future. This messaging should flow through all social media channels, as well as be presented to the media, and posted on websites and blogs.

And at this stage, like all the other stages, the principles of listening for understanding, being empathetic and polite, and being helpful are key. If it feels like the stages have almost morphed into one fluid loop, you’re probably doing a great job.

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Ahh. Much better. Transparency and feedback triumph again! Photo by Amy Neumann
Summary

A good company can shine bright in the face of adversity or crisis. The expectation is not perfection, but real, honest, understanding, helpful behavior during and after a crisis. With a goal to make things right during and after an issue, social media is an ideal tool to make that process as smooth, easy, and fast as possible for both sides.

“The reward of a thing well done is having done it.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Social Media Can Save the Day

In a crisis, these five steps can make things smoother and easier for customers and company alike.

Awareness
• Stay on top of conversations about your company with simple tools
• Watch for sudden changes in tone and sentiment from positive or neutral to negative
• Set up and monitor keywords related to your business

Listening
• Monitor who is talking to you across social media platforms and website comments
• Respond, both individually and more broadly
• Use updates on the same platforms someone talks, and invite them to email you if deeper interaction is needed

Transparency
• Acknowledge there is a situation
• Keep real-time updates flowing
• Be honest and straightforward with details

Feedback
• Make sure customers feel heard by replying, directing them to resources for updates
• Answer questions directly
• Be gracious for their feedback, and don’t delete negative comments

Resolution
• Update social media platforms with outcome, update websites
• Notify the media for additional outreach
• Outline the resolution, what was learned, and how similar situations will be prevented in the future
Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Black Card Circle’s Executive Leadership Exchange – Shanghai, China

13 May

This is something I’m very excited about!  A dear friend of mine, Lotay Yang, CEO of the incredible Black Card Circle (and Founder of Black Card Circle Foundation, a personal favorite nonprofit), is hosting a ground-breaking, once-in-a-lifetime event in China.

This historic event will be at the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong,  a stunning facility synonymous with excellence and renowned thought leadership.  An overview of the program, which is a remarkable bridging of the United States and China around the film and media industries, sounds simply amazing.  As a passionate fan of Chinese culture and history, and student of Mandarin for several years now, I can’t imagine a more unique and rare opportunity to learn in the most hands-on way possible all about doing business with China.

BCC Executive Leadership Exchange (ELE) Curriculum

Through Black Card Circle’s Executive Leadership Exchange (ELE), participants will gain valuable insight into the Chinese film industry, develop crucial Chinese relationships, and learn how to produce film with the support of the Chinese government.

Pudong, Shanghai (June 25, 2012-June 29, 2012)

The 5-day itinerary includes opening and closing festivities, one day of acclimation and seminars on the history and culture of China, one full day of industry excursion, three days of intensive seminars, and several professional interactions off site.

The Chinese Executive Leadership Academy Pudong – Shanghai, China, where the Black Card Circle Executive Leadership Exchange will be held June 25- 29, 2012.

Contents and Courses:

1. China Culture and Values (Chinese history, culture and customs)

Professor from CELAP or professor from Shanghai International Studies University

2. Chinese Business Etiquette

Haishan Jiang, Vice President of CELAP or

Gengfa Liu, Vice Director of Department of International Exchange and Program Development of CELAP

3. China Foreign Investment Policy and Business Environment

Tong Tao, Director of Department of Investment Promotion, Shanghai Foreign Investment Promotion Center

4. The Development and International Strategy of Shanghai Film

Ruigang Li, Deputy Secretary-General of Shanghai Government (Formal President of Shanghai Television Station), or

Jingjun Hu, President of Shanghai Media Group

5. China Film Industry

History and development of Chinese film industry, the management and mechanism of Chinese film, the international trade and cooperation of Chinese film.

Tong Gang, President of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television or

Peikang Lai, Vice President of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television

6. Strategic Leadership

Jieren Xi, President of Department of Leadership Research, CELAP

7. The History and Strategy of Shanghai Film Industry

Tour to Shanghai Chedun Film Studio

Zhonglun Ren, President of Shanghai Film Group, Vice President of Shanghai Media Group

8. Tour to Shanghai Film Studio and US-China Film Industry Mixer

A visit to the Shanghai Chedun Film Studio, Shanghai Film Museum, and Shanghai Film Group; Mixer with famous Chinese producers, film markers, actors

9. The Development and Changes of the City of Shanghai

Tour to Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre

10. The Exploration and Practice of Creative Culture Industry

Tour to Zhangjiang Animation Park

Other activities

1. Opening Ceremony;

2. Visit CELAP;

3. Professional Mixer.

If you or a colleague are interested in one of the most unique opportunities available for really being immersed in the business, culture, magic, and incredible knowledge China offers, do check this program out.  It has never been available before now and should not be missed!  For any questions, please contact Black Card Circle here.

The Unpredictable Freedom and Sweetness of Chaos – @Zen_Habits

16 Mar

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that don’t go exactly as planned?  We all do! But as Leo Babauta of the fabulous ZenHabits.net explains in this post, maybe that’s not a bad thing.  In fact, maybe it holds secrets to nourishing our creativity and passion.  Read on to see how!

The Unpredictable Freedom and Sweetness of Chaos

‘You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’ ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Post written by Leo Babauta. (Originally appears here on zenhabits.net)

I’m going to share a productivity, planning and organizational hack that will change your life. It will yield some unpredictable results, but if you approach it the right way, it could bring some of the most amazing work of your life, along with freedom, joy, exhilaration.

What’s this miraculous hack?

It’s a simple one: let go. Let go of control and allow yourself to be swept away by the powerful currents of life. Let go of planning and embrace not know what will happen. Let go of productivity and be open to new ideas, new opportunities, spontaneous creativity.

The Case for Chaos

Consider what we’re doing when we plan our day, our week, our year: we are trying to exert control over life, and predict with our plans the course our lives will take today, this week, this year.

We are saying: this is what I’m going to do today. This is how things will go. If I get these things done, life will be good. This is my idea of what this day will hold.

Now consider this: we have absolutely no idea if any of this is true. We cannot predict the future with any kind of certainty, and the idea that we can plan based on these shaky predictions is a nice fiction, but a fiction nonetheless. We do not know what will happen today, much less the rest of the week or month. Knowing what will happen this year? What a crock!

And consider: what if we could know? What if we could accurately predict every single day, and plan each day exactly? Would this be a great thing? I submit that it would suck infinitely more than not knowing. Having foreknowledge of the future means we know what will happen each day, which means not only will our days be ridiculously boring, but we’re stuck on one unshakable path. Foreknowledge means a crazy lack of freedom.

So we don’t know what will happen, nor should we want to. We can try to plan, but those plans are not based on real knowledge and probably won’t happen, so planning is a waste of time.

What can we do instead of trying to predict what will happen, instead of planning? Learn to embrace uncertainty, and be open to change. Learn to let go of control, and surf the ever-changing wave. Let unpredictability rule, let randomness be the force of our life, let spontaneity be the rule.

Embracing Chaos for Good

Some random thoughts based on my experiments with letting go:

  • Work is better with chaos. While the idea of having peaceful order to our workday is a nice one, it’s an illusion. And it’s frankly boring. Work based on fun, play, and spontaneity is more interesting. Imagine a project that is started with a spontaneous idea, and then changes course as you do it, embraces the ideas of strangers, ends up in a fantastic new place you could not have possibly foreseen when you started. This is how I did my last book, The Effortless Life, and it was one of the most fun I’ve ever had on a project. It’s how I’m doing all my projects now, actually.
  • A year that isn’t planned. When I started Zen Habits in 2007, I had my year planned out in detail, with goals, actions and weekly plans. That, of course, was tossed out the door as soon as I started writing Zen Habits and meeting my first readers, who changed my life with their feedback and kind attention. My life was turned upside down, my plans became meaningless, and I learned that while life is unpredictable, that unpredictability can bring some amazing things.
  • Be open to new possibilities. I learned, that first year of Zen Habits, to be open to new opportunities. Time and time again, new doors opened for me that I didn’t know — couldn’t know — would even be there. I saw the new door opening, considered it, and went in. That happened repeatedly, and taught me that there is no way to plan a path when you don’t know what each step will bring, what changes will happen to that path as you walk along it.
  • Be open to strangers. Let’s say you plan your day rigidly. You’ve got your productivity system honed, you’re cranking out the tasks. You are a productivity machine! But now you randomly happen upon a stranger who says hi. You say hi back, and now you have a new opportunity: you can talk to this stranger, get to know him. But then you’d deviate from the plan! Do you stick to the plan, or talk to the stranger? Well, sticking to the plan would be more productive, and give you more control over your life. But if you talk to the stranger, you might make a new friend. You might learn something you’d never have learned otherwise. I’ve made some of my best friends like this, because I was willing to deviate from my plans and talk to a stranger.
  • Chaos is creativity, and creativity is chaos. They are the same thing. Creative work doesn’t happen by plan and control. Sure, some of the worlds creative geniuses were detail freaks, but they didn’t make a plan to come up with a creative genius idea — it came to them because they were open to random thoughts, explored paths no one else had thought to look down, took an idea they saw from someone else and twisted it in a new way. Creativity comes from a place of chaos, and it’s only when you open yourself to this lack of control that you can come up with your best creativity.
  • Some things to read: Two of the best books I’ve read recently embrace the idea of uncertainty, and they also happened to come at me from two of my best friends — both of whom I met almost randomly on the Internet. My friend Jonathan Fields wrote Uncertainty, and it’s a great exploration of some of these ideas. My friend Mary Jaksch sent me a book the other day called Bring Me the Rhinoceros that is an excellent use of Zen koans to explore similar ideas. Both books highly recommended.
  • When we let go of our expectations that others will make us happy, we enjoy them more. We get angry and frustrated at people because they don’t act the way we want them to. We expect others to try to make us happy, to go out of their way to give us what we want. This is not why other people exist. When we let go of these expectations, we accept people for who they are, and learn to appreciate this uniqueness.
  • If you don’t expect things to go as planned, you are open to the unplanned. Something might arise that is unexpected, and if you go with it, you’ll have to let go of your previous plans. This can be a wonderful thing. Many people (including the old me) get frustrated when new things come up that were unplanned, when plans go awry, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating. Just expect plans to change, or don’t really plan at all. Expect unplanned things to happen, and when they do, smile.
  • Embrace not knowing what will happen. This is the ultimate freedom. You don’t know what you’re going to do today, nor what will come up. You are locked into nothing. You are completely free to do anything, to pursue any creative pursuit, to try new things as they come up, to be open to meeting new people. It can be scary at first, but if you smile when you think of not knowing, you’ll soon realize it’s a joyous thing.
  • When you’re not focused on one outcome, you open the possibility for many outcomes. Most people are focused on specific goals (outcomes), and relentlessly pursue that outcome. They then dismiss other possibilities as distractions. But what if you have no predetermined outcome? What if you say that anywhere you end up could be good? You now open an infinite amount of possibilities, and you’re much more likely to learn something than if you only try to do the things and learn the things that support your predetermined outcome.

‘It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.’ ~Hiromu Arakawa

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